How Revolutionary Was Reconstruction Essay

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How revolutionary was Reconstruction? It is important to note that the focus of this essay is not whether or not Reconstruction was revolutionary but rather to what extent it was. This presumption asserts a unique interpretation on the revolutionary debate around Reconstruction. To answer this question historians have argued over political, economic, agrarian, gendered and racial revolutions throughout and following Reconstruction. This essay will discuss the longue durée of reconstruction with a focus on race, immigration and agriculture. It is also crucial to examine how revolutionary the concept of reconstruction was to nineteenth century American politics. The reactionary consequences of Reconstruction were not limited purely to the South…show more content…
The lack of directive for rights of freedmen resulted in an incomplete upheaval of slavery. Foner argues that ‘freedmen did not receive the American ideal of equal citizenship’. The adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 as part of the Reconstruction Amendments attempted to resolve this discrepancy however political manipulation in the southern states as well as poor immigration management added, in small part, to the failure of reconstruction. Foner discusses the concept of Reconstruction as one that is constantly changing and representative of a larger political revolution. He calls it ‘one of the most violent, dramatic and controversial’ periods of United States history and while that might be the case it was also one of the most enlightening. It highlights socio-political and economic concerns that are still evident in contemporary society. Immigration and racial equality are by no means concerns that are without resolution today but they are issues in society in which we are able to compare to past failures. There are long term patterns that have persisted following reconstruction. The Freedman’s Bureau, Jim Crow, Black Codes and the Civil Rights movement, these all proceeded from or were a part of reconstruction. The revolutionary nature of Reconstruction was not in its implementation but rather in its ideology. This was a nationwide awareness and lawful application of Black emancipation. The success or failure of Reconstruction does not detract from its revolutionary ideals. It is important to recognise the fundamental affect Reconstruction had in a historical

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